The United States has condemned the bombings and violent attacks that occurred in more than a dozen Iraqi cities on July 23. At least 115 people were killed and over 200 wounded in the bloodiest day in the country in more than two years.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland deplored the carnage:
“We strongly condemn these attacks which took place ... in Iraq. The targeting of innocents is always cowardly. It’s particularly reprehensible during this holy month of Ramadan. I would like to say it’s unusual. Unfortunately it is not unusual that we have seen terrorists exploit the holy month, exploit the peaceful efforts by Iraqis to worship, to commit acts of terror.”
Al Qaida in Iraq, known as AQI, released a statement claiming responsibility for the attacks, which occurred one day after AQI announced it would be starting a new offensive in the country. The attacks bore a number of AQI hallmarks: they were coordinated, occurring within a few hours of each other; and they targeted mostly Shiite neighborhoods, although many Sunnis were also among the victims.
State Department Spokesperson Nuland said the “horrific tactics” used by al-Qaida in Iraq are “desperate efforts to call on Sunnis to turn against their government, to assassinate judges and investigators and to ... turn against all of these democratic institutions.” AQI will fail, she said:
“The Iraqis know they’re going to fail. But regrettably, this is a bloody pattern that we’ve seen in years past that Ramadan has been exploited for the agendas of terrorists and those who don’t have the best interests of Iraq at heart.”
Ms. Nuland noted that overall, the security situation has improved over the last couple of years, as has the capability of Iraqi forces. She highlighted continued U.S. support for Iraqi Security Forces, who have been handling their own security for some time. “They fought long and hard,” Ms. Nuland said, “to get to this stage where they are taking responsibility for their own security.”